Monday, November 06, 2006

Opt-out campaign ads

If there's anything as annoying as public radio and television pledge campaigns, it's political campaign ads sprouting up on the airwaves every Fall. I know they work to sway the undecided voters, but for those of us who have their minds made up (for some time now, actually), they are a waste of time and money.

Couldn't a subscription model work there too? Once you've decided you don't need any more of the arguments they are proposing, really and truly for sure, you could flip a setting on your TV and radio and telephone and be spared any further pitches.

Maybe we could arrange things that the act of switching the setting actually registers your vote ahead of time absentee-style. That way the political interests would know for sure that there is no point bombarding you any further, since you have already made your choice, October/November surprises or no. So making your selection would have to be done only when you have a feeling of ironclad commitment, also telling the political powers that there is also no point in appeals to you attempting to affect the voter turnout (the second main function of political ads).

In order to get people to keep their minds open and to not opt-out, advertising consultants would have an incentive to make their ads interesting to watch and creative, the same way other advertisers have. The undecideds might want to withhold their commitment in order to enjoy the play of ideas and issues right up until Election Day. This, I think, would also be a good thing as something to help counteract voter apathy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do Not Mail Opt-Out Law would be fair to everyone.

The proposed Colorado "Do not mail" is an Opt-Out law. Only those not desiring advertising mail need opt-out. Anyone desiring advertising mail can do nothing - and continue to receive it. Why deny those wishing to avoid advertising mail the power to do so?

I do not consider handling unwanted advertising placed against my will on my personal property to be a civic obligation!

The US Supreme Court said in the Rowan case in 1970, ““In today's [1970] complex society we are inescapably captive audiences for many purposes, but a sufficient measure of individual autonomy must survive to permit every householder to exercise control over unwanted mail. To make the householder the exclusive and final judge of what will cross his threshold undoubtedly has the effect of impeding the flow of ideas, information, and arguments that, ideally, he should receive and consider. Today's merchandising methods, the plethora of mass mailings subsidized by low postal rates, and the growth of the sale of large mailing lists as an industry in itself have changed the mailman from a carrier of primarily private communications, as he was in a more leisurely day, and have made him an adjunct of the mass mailer who sends unsolicited and often unwanted mail into every home. It places no strain on the doctrine of judicial notice to observe that whether measured by pieces or pounds, Everyman's mail today is made up overwhelmingly of material he did not seek from persons he does not know. And all too often it is matter he finds offensive.”

Furthermore, the Supreme Court said, “the mailer's right to communicate is circumscribed only by an affirmative act of the addressee giving notice that he wishes no further mailings from that mailer.

To hold less would tend to license a form of trespass and would make hardly more sense than to say that a radio or television viewer may not twist the dial to cut off an offensive or boring communication and thus bar its entering his home. Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit; we see no basis for according the printed word or pictures a different or more preferred status because they are sent by mail.”

We need a Colorado “Do Not Mail” law to create a one-stop, convenient place for homeowners to give senders the aforementioned affirmative notice that we do not want certain kinds of mail sent to our homes.

Ramsey A Fahel
Arvada, CO